Surreal Skies

August 2, 2015

Fogged-in this Sunday morning on California’s north coast — most-likely a portion of the marine layer mixed with ringed westward smoke from ‘tinderbox’ forests.

As we burn, an apparent warning: The lede from a piece last Thursday by writer/photographer Subhankar Banerjee at TomDispatch:

The wettest rainforest in the continental United States had gone up in flames and the smoke was so thick, so blanketing, that you could see it miles away. Deep in Washington’s Olympic National Park, the aptly named Paradise Fire, undaunted by the dampness of it all, was eating the forest alive and destroying an ecological Eden. In this season of drought across the West, there have been far bigger blazes but none quite so symbolic or offering quite such grim news. It isn’t the size of the fire (though it is the largest in the park’s history), nor its intensity. It’s something else entirely — the fact that it shouldn’t have been burning at all. When fire can eat a rainforest in a relatively cool climate, you know the Earth is beginning to burn.

MatsPetersson1Yesterday, the skies nearly surrealistic with the fog/smoke blend drifting from the east, filtering the sunlight. Some folks reported ‘rain of ash‘ from those inland fires all along the coast, from Trinidad to Ferndale, but I didn’t see any — just some odd colors mingling sunshine and billowing vapors. There were awesome bluish-purple sun-rays bursting out of cloud breaks a couple of times.

No ash/no fire, though, we on the Left Coast get involved with crazy shit sometimes, and now with forest fires, no exception — reportedly, 21 major wildfires are burning across California this weekend, the biggest, Rocky Fire down in Lake County, that’s burned 47,000 acres, but after two days of fighting, still only five percent contained.
Since last Tuesday, there’s been 3,897 blazes statewide that required serious, professional fire work.

(Illustration: From the ‘Firewatch‘ series, by Mats Petersson, found here).

In the TomDispatch article from above are details of the situation in Washington state, though, if we travel further northward into Alaska, an even-worse situation.
Via TechTimes last week:

They estimate that around 4.7 million acres of boreal lands and forests in Alaska have burned up in this summer alone, and millions of acres more that were scorched in Canada, where experts believe half of the land features a layer of permafrost underground.
Subarctic fires are not a new occurrence as a large majority of land affected by wildfires in North America each year is in Canada and Alaska.
However, the number of fires observed this season are significantly higher than average, with many of them burning at a high intensity.
Ted Schurr, an ecologist at the University of Northern Arizona, said that unusually high rate of wildfires this year is very alarming.
“It’s understood that there’s about twice as much frozen carbon [in permafrost] as there is in the atmosphere, to the tune of about 1,700 billion tons of carbon stored frozen,” Schurr said.
Schurr explained that there is potentially another 2,000 billion tons’ worth of carbon found in the soil and vegetation across the world.

So we’re not alone in the ash rain of forest fires…

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